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Jameis Winston finishes atop final Heisman watch list

John Bazemore / Associated Press
Can Tre Mason's 300-yard four-touchdown performance in the SEC title game earn him a trip to New York?

Mike Huguenin has spent more than 29 years in sports journalism, many of them closely associated with college football. As a longtime Heisman Trophy voter and one who will cast his ballot again at the end of this season, Huguenin takes a weekly look at the Heisman race.

HEISMAN WATCH 2013:
Week 15 | Week 14 | Week 13 | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9
Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1

Florida State redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston likely clinched the Heisman on Thursday, when he was cleared in a sexual-assault case from December 2012. He then completed the regular season Saturday with yet another 300-yard passing performance in leading the Seminoles to an easy win in the ACC title game.

Week 15: Things we learned
From Auburn RB Tre Mason's record day in the SEC championship game to Blake Bortles' rising draft stock, here are the lessons we learned in Week 15 of college football. More ...

Winston played steady football all season, all while other Heisman contenders ebbed and flowed. In the process, he set numerous school and NCAA records and -- oh, by the way -- he has led FSU to a spot in the national championship game.

Winston has set NCAA single-season freshman records for passing yards (3,820) and TD passes (38); the 38 TD passes also is a single-season ACC record.

The biggest remaining question about the Heisman seems to be who other than Winston will be invited to the trophy ceremony. Voting for the award ends at 5 p.m. ET on Monday, and the award will be handed out Saturday.

Here are the top 10 contenders, from 10th to first, as this Heisman voter sees them:

10. TB Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona

2013 stats: 156.0 rushing yards per game, 17 TDs, 26 receptions, 1 TD.
Saturday's stats: Regular season over.
The skinny: Carey, a junior, led the nation in rushing last season and is second this season. He rushed for at least 119 yards in each of his 11 regular-season games, and had five 150-yard outings. Carey also has had at least 25 carries in eight games this season.

Reminiscent of Dorsett
Tre Mason's workman-like effort in leading Auburn to victory in the SEC title game inspired Gil Brandt to compare the running back to a famous Dallas Cowboys great. More ...

9. TB Tre Mason, Auburn

2013 stats: 124.7 rushing yards per game, 22 TDs.
Saturday's stats: 46 carries, 304 yards, 4 TDs in win over Missouri.
The skinny: Mason, a junior, is 10th in the nation in rushing yards per game. He set career highs in attempts, yards and TDs in Saturday's epic performance against Mizzou in the SEC championship game. It was his eighth 100-yard game of the season and his fifth in a row. He is tied for third nationally in rushing TDs, but his yards-per-carry average of 5.7 is just seventh among the top 10 rushers.

8. QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

2013 stats: 311.0 passing yards per game, 33 TDs, 13 interceptions, 69.1 completion percentage, 57.2 rushing yards per game, 8 TDs.
Saturday's stats: Regular season over.
The skinny: The question with Manziel, a third-year sophomore who is the reigning Heisman winner, is whether he still can get to New York as a finalist. Manziel is tied for sixth nationally in TD passes and is third nationally in total offense (368.2 yards per game).

7. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon

2013 stats: 284.3 passing yards per game, 30 TDs, 4 interceptions, 63.1 completion percentage, 48.5 rushing yards per game, 9 TDs.
Saturday's stats: Regular season over.
The skinny: Mariota, a third-year sophomore, has thrown at least one TD pass in all 24 games of his career. He is ninth nationally in total offense (332.8 yards per game) but had three games in which he completed 50 percent or less of his passes and struggled as a runner down the stretch.

Southern California cheerleaders perform during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Washington State in Los Angeles, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
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College football cheerleaders

Take a look at the cheerleaders of college football in action during the 2013 season.

6. QB Bryce Petty, Baylor

2013 stats: 320.3 passing yards per game, 30 TDs, 2 interception, 61.8 completion percentage, 11 rushing TDs.
Saturday's stats: 21 of 37 for 287 yards, 2 TDs, 0 interceptions in win over Texas.
The skinny: Petty, a junior, has nine 300-yard games and five games with at least three TD passes this season. But there's no question that as the schedule has toughened in the second half of the season, he began to struggle some. He didn't complete more than 58 percent of his passes in any of the final five regular-season games. Still, he has excellent stats (look at that TD-to-interception ratio) and he quarterbacks a team that won 11 games and the Big 12 title. Petty is one of nine quarterbacks nationally averaging 300 passing yards per game, but he has by far the fewest attempts (by 35) and the fewest completions (by 50) among those nine.

5. TB Andre Williams, Boston College

2013 stats: 175.2 rushing yards per game, 17 rushing TDs.
Saturday's stats: Regular season over.
The skinny: Williams, a senior, is the nation's leading rusher, and is the first 2,000-yard rusher in the FBS ranks since UConn's Donald Brown in 2008. He is just the 15th back to reach the 2,000-yard plateau in NCAA history. He has had five 200-yard games and nine 100-yard performances this season, including 149 against Florida State. As for handling a heavy workload, Williams has had at least 23 carries in 10 of BC's 12 games, and six times he has had at least 30 carries; he leads the nation with 329 carries.

4. RB Bishop Sankey, Washington

2013 stats: 147.9 rushing yards per game, 18 rushing TDs, 25 receptions, 1 receiving TD.
Saturday's stats: Regular season over.
The skinny: Sankey, a junior, has three 200-yard and nine 100-yard games this season, and he has scored at least one rushing TD in each of the Huskies' 12 contests. He is third in the nation in rushing, sixth in rushing TDs and fourth in rushing attempts (306). Sankey also is a workhorse who has been extremely productive against a tough schedule (four opponents are in the current top 25). So why doesn't he get more national acclaim?

Nov 2, 2013; Fresno, CA, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs running back Josh Quezada (20) rushes for a gain against the Nevada Wolf Pack during the second quarter at Bulldog Stadium. Fresno State won 41-23. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
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Alternate college football uniforms

Check out special college football uniforms worn during the 2013 season.

3. QB Derek Carr, Fresno State

2013 stats: 405.5 passing yards per game, 48 TDs, 7 interceptions, 70.1 completion percentage, 2 rushing TDs.
Saturday's stats: 36 of 53 for 404 yards, 3 TDs, 2 interceptions, 32 rushing yards in victory over Utah State.
The skinny: Carr, a senior, leads the nation in passing yards per game and TD passes. He is tied for fifth in NCAA single-season history in TD passes, and he has a game left; only four quarterbacks (Colt Brennan, David Klingler, B.J. Symons and Sam Bradford) have thrown 50 in a season. It's doubtful he can reach Brennan's 58, but Klingler is second with 54 and Symons third with 52. Only 10 quarterbacks ever have averaged 400 passing yards per game in a season; his current average would be seventh-most all time. This season this fall, he has had two 500-yard games, eight 400-yard games, 10 300-yard games, four games with at least five TD passes and eight games with at least four TD passes.

2. QB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois

2013 stats: 205.8 passing yards per game, 23 TDs, 7 interceptions, 63.1 completion percentage, 144.7 rushing yards per game, 22 rushing TDs, 1 receiving TD.
Friday's stats: 21 of 40 for 219 yards, 1 TD, 2 interceptions, 26 carries, 126 yards, 2 TDs in loss to Bowling Green.
The skinny: Lynch, a senior, has started 27 games in the past two seasons, and NIU is 24-3 overall and 12-1 this season. He had arguably his worst game of the season in Friday night's MAC championship game loss to Bowling Green, and he seemingly has fallen off the Heisman map. Unfortunately, had that performance come in the opener, nobody would have cared. He has rushed for 1,881 yards, which is a FBS single-season record for a quarterback, and he has a great shot at becoming the first quarterback in NCAA history at any level to rush for 2,000 yards and pass for 2,000 yards in the same season. He would become just the 16th player to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. Lynch is fourth nationally in total offense per game (350.5 yards per game) and fourth nationally in rushing. His performance against Bowling Green was his fifth consecutive game with at least 100 rushing yards, and he has eight of those on the season.

Florida State's Cameron Erving (75) celebrates after the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship NCAA football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Florida State defeated Duke 45-7. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
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Best of Week 15

Check out the top images from the 15th weekend of college football play.

1. QB Jameis Winston, Florida State

2013 stats: 293.8 passing yards per game, 38 TDs, 10 interceptions, 67.9 completion percentage, 4 rushing TDs.
Saturday's stats: 19 of 32 for 330 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions in win over Duke.
The skinny: Winston is bidding to become the second consecutive redshirt freshman to win the Heisman. Saturday's outing was his eighth with at least three TD passes and his 12th with at least two scoring tosses. Winston has seven 300-yard games this season. He has set an ACC single-season record for TD passes and is second nationally in that category. His yards-per-attempt average (10.9) is first among those who qualify.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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